Namibia: Call to Rid Irrigation Projects of Idle Farmers

Ndonga Linena — The Namibian Agronomic Board chairperson, who is also chairperson of Agribank, Michael Iyambo, says government through the Agricultural Business Development Agency (Agribusdev) must get rid of poor-performing small-scale farmers at all government irrigation projects to make way for those that want to use their skills to produce food for the country.

Iyambo made the remarks during a visit to Ndonga Linena government irrigation project on Monday, accompanied by Agribusdev managing director Petrus Uugwanga and Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) CEO Fidelis Mwazi.

"There are people who are sitting with no jobs, there are agricultural graduates who are sitting with no jobs ... " Iyambo noted. Iyambo said some small-scale farmers who have been in the system for long should be removed if their low production persists. "You have small-scale farmers who are having the same land or farming on equal hectares, and these guys have been here since 2009, so why do we still have people who are not performing while the other farmers are getting better yields and the others not?" Iyambo said.

"You see with small-scale farmers there's always this outer layer, you will find one farmer who performed bad and on average will affect others; there is no uniformity in performance. In fact I would acknowledge that our monitoring system is not as good as we want it to be, but we have records; we will be able to say that this [farmer] performed bad here," said the Agribusdev boss Uugwanga.

Uugwanga stressed they have records and at other projects they have gone to the extent of evicting farmers on the basis of non-performance. The power to recommend eviction of poor-performing farmers at these government projects lies with Uugwanga. "I can only do it if I have reports of inconsistent, poor performance from the agronomist and the farm manager as per contract and I have to say that we have evicted such farmers but it must come on record."

"We should also appreciate that those who have done well from this project, have been graduated to Musese project to farm on a bigger plots, and they are doing good," Uugwanga said.

"It's up to us to promote, to keep and train them and polish them, and it's also up to us to discard," Uugwanga added.

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